As the title suggests, this deck is just set to win against opponents through attrition and card advantage. Almost every card is designed to be an answer or to ramp into an answer. There isn't really a "win condition" in the general sense. I am just trying to control the battlefield so I can swing in with all my creatures.
This was my "first" deck. My first deck was actually Doran, the Siege Tower that I had copied from someone online but after playing it a couple of times my friend suggested different card choices and since Karador had just been printed, he suggested I change the general. This deck has gone through the most changes and tuning of any of my decks so it slowly changes with new cards being printed but for the most part, it is where I want it to be. The latest big addition was a Bazaar of Baghdad which does help the deck quite a bit.
I have already added a couple Conspiracy cards (Selvala, Heart of the Wilds and Recruiter of the Guard). I am planning on cutting the bouncelands (Selesnya Sanctuary and Golgari Rot Farm) once Wizards prints the Enemy colored "battlelands". For now, they are there just to fill in space. I probably should just replace them with pain lands or buddy lands.
As to the card choices, you can see that there are quite a few that wipe the board. Most of my choices are centered around creatures (since they are easier to recur) so Bane of Progress can blow up Artifacts and Enchantments. False Prophet and Massacre Wurm gets rid of creatures (mostly tokens for the Wurm). Merciless Eviction and Oblivion Stone can get rid of exactly what I need to get rid of. Agent of Erebos and Angel of Finality gets rid of graveyards. All ramp is creature based as it allows for better ramp and better Sun Titan targets later on.
Diamond Valley and Miren are there as sac outlets and for gaining life with big creatures. They, along with High Market and a couple other cards, allow for sacrificing creatures to prevent them from being exiled and for sacrificing Eldrazi to save my graveyard in response to it being exiled.
Another card I am going to give a try is Regal Behemoth. I think this card could be good to allow me to continue casting my stuff as needed to get a better control over the board. To make room for this, I have decided to cut Mindslicer. This is a card I have been moving away from anyway as it slows the game to a crawl. This deck can take advantage of it but it always felt bad to do.
Updates (I am including my initial cuts for Conspiracy cards so I document them):
The Gearhulk gives me another Shadowborn Demon and gains me life at the same time. I can see the Menace being relevant, though not as much as flying. I do think that this is a good card to have in the deck as it does a lot of what I want which is get rid of a problematic creature and gain me life when I need it.
Demon of Dark Schemes seems like a "different" Massacre Wurm. Not better or worse. It just has a different purpose. I will still take Massacre Wurm over Demon of Dark Schemes since Massacre Wurm can end the game, but I think both are pretty good. While the Demon hits my stuff too, I should have enough energy to start reanimating my creatures or my opponent's creatures.
To make room for this I am cutting Regal Behemoth. I didn't get to play much with it, but there is a reason I don't run Mirari's Wake in this deck as I don't often need a ton of mana to do things. Plus, needing to retain being the Monarch to get any use out of the Behemoth has proven to be challenging than I originally thought. At least, that is the case in this deck since I don't often flood the board with creatures to protect myself.
I also realized that this deck still runs Decree of Pain and I have been slowly changing that to Toxic Deluge in my decks so that will be replaced. I feel this is even more necessary since my curve is slowly going up with my other two additions, so this should help balance it a little bit.
So, after a number of unsuccessful attempts at replacing this deck with different builds, I have decided to move back to these colors. I had tried moving to 4 colors and then moving to Mardu and nothing ever felt as good as this build. I had also moved away from this at the time because I had one or two other decks that were really close to this deck. Those have since been dismantled so the time felt right to revisit this build.
Because of the length of time since dismantling this, there are quite a few changes compared to the last list. I will offer a breakdown of the card differences I feel are important after I list the cards I removed and added.
After looking at the differences in my deck list, I am quite surprised at the omissions in the original list as well as some of the inclusions. Most of the inclusions in the original list that I have now removed are due, at least partly, to a change in deck building philosophy.
As for the original omissions, Gaea's Cradle, Volrath's Stronghold, and Command Tower are 3 lands that I have no idea why they were not in the original list. They are there now. Regarding lands I have since cut, the big ones are the bounce lands that I no longer run in any decks and the off color fetches that I also moved away from in all decks.
As to some of the noncreature spells, I moved away from tutors in general and I feel Survival is more powerful than what I want in the deck so I no longer use it. I also cut O Stone and Merciless Eviction for creature based removal options. Birthing Pod, while not as good as Survival, was also cut to reduce the number of tutors. This one might actually make it back in as it is conditional and works well with Karador. Skullclamp just doesn't have as many things to attach to that will die right away.
Instead of the cards above, I included other removal options such as Path, Swords, Attrition, and Aura Shard. Perilous Forays is another sac outlet which also ramps me and Sylvan Library is more card draw.
Now, the biggest changes are with the creatures. Some were just underwhelming or unnecessary. Angel of Finality never felt great as it was Sorcery timing and Selvala never felt needed since I am only casting one or two things each turn anyway. And my ramp package made that possible already. I did find I was omitting some ramp like Yavimaya Dryad and Farhaven Elf. I am also including Kor Cartographer now.
A fair number of the cuts were based on mana curve. Demon of Dark Schemes, Ashen Rider, Duplicant, Massacre Wurm, Sheoldred, Woodfall Primus and World Breaker were just too high on the mana curve and there were better options at lower costs. Rune-Scarred and Sidisi were cut because of my general overall limit of unconditional tutors. Obviously I still include some conditional ones like Recruiter and Protean Hulk and Vampiric Tutor is in here just because it is an instant and can give me a necessary out to certain situations.
The other inclusions are things to get me out of certain situations that might come up. Pridemage gets rid of enchantments and artifacts. I included this along with Reclamation Sage as it gives me an out to Torpor Orb. The Gitrog Monster gives me card draw and land drops. Sun Titan can sort of ramp me as well as work at recurring things I might need. Magus of the Disk is an experimental inclusion. It is a creature based removal spell so I cut Akroma's Vengeance for it. It is delayed a turn compared to Vengeance but it gives me more options for recursion and being able to flash it in at the end of an opponent's turn in certain cases.
So far, these overhaul of the deck seems to be working out very well. As I mentioned, there are some cards I may end up including again (such as Birthing Pod) but for now the list seems pretty solid and its first outing (with a couple of differences from the "final" list in the first post) was very successful.
Rivals of Ixalan has not really provided much in the way of possible inclusions for the deck. The only card that might be reasonable in this deck is World Shaper. Wayward Swordtooth looks promising, but Azusa, Lost but Seeking is just better. I have also thought of Tetzimoc, Primal Death. It seems slow which is why I don't think I will include it, but it is another form of creature based removal. The worst part about it is that the activated ability is limited to my turn which severely limits the use.
So, I am going to see what happens in the coming weeks while waiting for the release of Rivals to see if I can find a spot to fit in World Shaper. Otherwise, this set does not seem to offer much for this deck.
I decided to update the deck with one one: Ravenous Chupacabra. It is cheap and it hits all my opponents' creatures that can be targeted and it is a creature so it works well with Karador.
I decided to cut Disciple of Bolas for now. To be honest, I had a hard time coming up with a cut for the card, and I just decided there is enough card draw and life gain outside this card that I can afford to cut it. If I find some other card is not performing, I may add it back in.
I have been playing this deck a lot and, so far, I very rarely lose with it. The resiliency it has and the way to take over the game even when empty handed is awesome. Obviously, at that point graveyard hate is devastating, but I have been able to take over the game with nothing in hand.
With that being said, I am always looking at new sets for new cards to include. The newest sets bring this cards to the table:
The first two are being considered solely for their ability to draw me cards. Now, I know Grothama can help my opponents draw cards too, but I figured I could have a few small creatures fight Grothama and then sac him to draw the cards from him dying. Since Karador wants things in the graveyard anyway, having my stuff die in exchange for cards is not the worst thing.
Krav does something similar in that I just sac creatures to draw cards as well as gain life. It also gives me a way to sac Grothama if the fights don't kill him. It is just another way of trying to keep my hand full.
Remorseful Cleric is a way to deal with opposing graveyards while being a creature that I also sac (so it works with Karador to make him cheaper). Sacrificing it means it can be better than Agent of Erebos since I can hold it up with the trade-off of telegraphing my play.
I was going to cut The Gitrog Monster for Phyrexian Plaguelord as a way to instant sac a bunch of stuff, but Krav may fill this role for now. So, I think that is what I am going to cut for Krav. However, that still means I need to find 2 other cuts to make for the other two cards. Magus of the Disk has been decent, but didn't truly offer the versatility I would like. I could see cutting that. And, with the additional card draw, I could see Sylvan Library being a but superfluous so maybe I could cut that as well. That one is a bit of a harder sell, but I could potentially get to that point, especially since I don't see anything else that stands out as warranting a cut.
The game started off pretty well. I ended up casting an early Harmonic Sliver to blow something up and getting a Wood Elves. I then dropped in a Grothama, All-Devourer. Next turn, I attacked and had my Sliver and Elves fight Grothama. Grothama dealt damage and I sacrificed him. I drew 2 cards and gained 8 life since I sacrificed it to Miren. This gave me a much needed land drop for the turn.
The Baird player and Dragon player were building up pretty well so the Aminatou player Languished. At the end of their turn, I activated Bazaar and discarded 3 cards. One of which was an Ulvenwald Hydra.
My turn I cast a Karmic Guide to get the Ulvenwald Hydra I discarded. I used that to tutor out my Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. I felt this was the best play as black mana is always welcome in this deck and it allowed me to tap my Bazaar for mana as I needed. Unfortunately, it was exiled immediately by Aminatou with a Duplicant.
Bazaar kept me going a little and next turn I just dropped in an Aura Shards and did nothing. The turn after, I cast Karador, to then cast Karmic Guide, to get back Wood Elves to get a Dryad Arbor. In all, I got 4 creatures to blow up 4 enchantments and artifacts. It was actually a pretty fun turn and one that got rid of a couple important enchantments. 2 of the artifacts blown up were Aminatou 's as payback for exiling my Hydra. It felt pretty good
Unfortunately, they then bounced my board and Day's Undoing'd during their next turn. I was able to rebuild from there with Erebos and something else small. He survived for a turn before getting exiled off Return to Dust. I ended up drawing 4 or 5 cards off him so I still got good value.
From here, I basically go into a rhythm where the board was wrathed 2 or 3 times but I was able to rebuild with Karador and Karmic Guide. I got a Protean Hulk to then get a Mikaeus when it died. I used this to get more value out of things like Qasali Pridemage. Aminatou ended up putting Mikaeus on the bottom of my library fairly quickly after that and then Baird cast Day of Judgment. I had a Seedguide Ash so I got some lands. Next turn, I just cast Karador, Karmic Guide, Noxious Gearhulk to blow up the Ur Dragon and gain some more life back.
Aminatou did Ultimate so it stole 2 or 3 creatures. I don't remember what they were beyond Karador since I sacrificed the Gearhulk. I ended up tutoring up Damnation and wrathing the board anyway. Since I had gotten an Angelic Renewal from the Baird player, this let me get back Karador which let me recast Knight of the Reliquary. I then cast Qasali Pridemage from hand.
A couple turns later, the Aminatou player chose to Terminus. I had a Chainer at this time so I reanimated Qasali Pridemage to blow up the Gearhulk that I had recast (or gotten back with Chainer) and then I sacrificed Chainer. Next turn I cast Karador and cast Chainer. I then reanimated Magus of the Future from Aminatou on their turn and then cast Krav on my turn from my graveyard (having put it there with Bazaar). I also cast Archon of Justice. I used this to sacrifice to Krav to then exile Aminatou's Kefnet.
On The Ur-Dragon's turn, they cast Ur-Dragon for something like the 4th time. They equipped it with Swiftfoot Boots and tried to go to combat. I responded by blowing up the Boots to ensure it couldn't attack.
I reanimated Grothama on Aminatou's turn and then on my turn I attacked with it and had 3 of my creatures fight it. I sacrificed it to Krav to draw a total of 7 cards. At this time, the relevant pieces on the board are Krav and Chainer. I reanimated Protean Hulk. Which means that now, for 4 mana, I got any creature I wanted so I got Mikaeus first and then Kokusho. I sacrificed Kokusho 6 times to kill everyone and ending up at over 130 life.
During the game, Baird did very little to impact the game (they had a few things that needed to be answered) and The Ur-Dragon player kind of got caught in the crossfire with their board getting wiped quite often. They also had a couple good plays, but they couldn't get much to stick.
Overall, I think Karador only cost me 1 or 2 extra mana any time I recast him because I kept my graveyard pretty full.
The main problem I found with Grothama is that it is very hard to get this to work well without sac outlets. When it did work, it worked well, but I am not sure how consistent it is going to be. I still like it, so we will see how it fares going forward.
Krav did exactly what I expected. He drew me cards, gained me life, and worked as a sac outlet when I needed him. It worked much better than Grothama as a draw engine. I was pretty impressed with him this game.
I started off the game not doing much. I think I only got Yavimaya Dryad early for ramp and didn't really do much. I did end up having to get a Damnation off Vampiric Tutor to slow the other two players down (mostly Vaevictis). They then rebuilt and got down a ridiculous board state with Vaevictus, It That Betrays, and a couple other things (these were the big two). They ended up getting a Sol Ring from Skullbriar and a Command Tower from me. I got a Farhaven Elf off of it so I at least got my land back. I had a Mikaeus, the Unhallowed that Skullbriar targeted with Beast Within before this.
Next turn, I cast a Remorseful Cleric and Skullbriar had gotten rid of It That Betrays. Vaevictus made me sac my Cleric and I got a land I think. Eventually, I got down a Seedguide Ash and a Grothama, All-Devouring. With my Farhaven Elf and beast token, this allowed me to attack and fight Grothama with all 3. I wrathed my board but drew 8 cards. This got me back into the game as I got a Protean Hulk.
They still had a bunch of Artifacts and Enchantments (the worst of which was Baneful Omen since I was at 8 and Skullbriar was at 3 after seeing a Breaker of Armies on top) so the next turn I got a Karmic Guide to reanimate Hulk to then sac it to get Bane of Progress. This finally reined them in.
I ended up getting Mikaeus back which allowed me to continuously recur Karmic Guide and Hulk (I had Karador out to recast the Guide when it couldn't return from Undying). I then dropped in a Gray Merchant of Asphodel to drain players for 7. Skullbriar was dead at this point since I had attacked them and this, coupled with sacrificing the Hulk, gained me a lot of much needed life. I looped Gray Merchant over the course of a couple turns and drained 14 life each turn (since it kept coming back from Undying and I could then just cast it with Karador when it didn't come back). I ended up being at 94 life after having been down as low as 8.
Again, Grothama came through in a pinch when I really needed it and it let me draw 8 cards. Objectively, the effectiveness of it is still in question though. If I hadn't had 8 power on the board, I am not sure if I ever would have gotten back into that game. It is just one of those cards that, so far, has been good at getting me out of a tough situation, but I don't want to get sucked into thinking it is a great (or even good) card when I am just getting lucky. But, this has now been twice where this has done work for me, so I am definitely warming up to the card sticking around. Hopefully a couple more games will show one way or the other if these last two times were flukes or if I can expect to have this kind of success with it more often than not.
I haven't had a chance to play this much lately (especially with the holiday) but I decided to make a couple changes to the deck.
Knight of Autumn is one that I wanted to add when I saw it spoiled. It is a better Reclamation Sage that is just a little harder to cast. I don't think the counters mode will matter, but gaining 4 life can be beneficial in certain cases. In the vast majority of cases though, it will just be a Rec Sage.
Mausoleum Secrets is kind of weird for me. I generally dislike tutors as they can tend to make games repetitive. I have Vampiric Tutor in this deck only because it is an Instant and it gives me a way to get an Eldrazi in my graveyard if someone is trying to exile it (usually using Bazaar or Greater Good). Mausoleum Secrets is a bit different in that it gets me something to my hand but is really conditional. And the conditions work very well with this deck: I will often have a lot of creatures in my graveyard and my black cards can be the answer I need when I need it. I do have a few wincons in black but I also have a few answers I might need too. Since it is unlikely I will be tutoring the same thing every game, I think it is acceptable.
Notably, I would generally want to get Protean Hulk or Spike Weaver or Constant Mists if I am about to die and this doesn't get me those. I know it is weird to prefer a card because it *can't* do something, but I like the space this plays in for this deck. The issue for including this is finding room for it. This deck is fairly "tuned" for what I want (I know it could be infinitely better with combos and things like that) so trying to find cuts for new cards is always a challenge. This time around, I looked at potentially cutting Noxious Gearhulk, Crypt Rats, Realm Seekers, Perilous Forays, and Corpse Dance.
I decided on Perilous Forays for a couple reasons. Its ability is really good, but it does cost a lot of mana to cast. It allows for ramp, but at the expense of creatures (not a huge deal in this deck, but something worth noting). It is not a creature so it doesn't work as well with Karador. I have enough other ramp in the deck that it isn't always that necessary. I am not sure if I will miss this card, but I think the benefit of being able to tutor what I need at the right time should be a greater benefit than just trying to ramp more. Due to the conditional and restricted nature of Mausoleum Secrets, it is possible it is a mistake to include but I am excited to try it out.
I played this deck today and ended up winning with it. I was playing against Aurelia and my own new Niv-Mizzet, Parun deck. I had almost no ramp the entire game except a lone Sakura Tribe Elder. Niv-Mizzet took out Aurelia after a bit of back and forth between them. I ended up just sitting back, doing a few things, like Pernicious Deed, and slowly worked my way into a winning position. I ended up winning by having a Kokusho in play and casting Karador. Niv countered him. I cast Karador again for the same cost (I had 7 creatures in my graveyard). They countered him again. I cast him one more time (this time for 2WBG). This time he stuck so I sacrificed Kokusho, cast him again, and sacrificed him to win the game.
As a side note, I was able to get Kokusho off of Mausoleum Secrets so it worked out in its first outing.
Interestingly, I made a mistake in my deck changes. I mentioned above that I wanted to cut Perilous Forays. But, when I was writing that, I had already cut Realm Seekers before deciding to change the cut but I forgot to change the actual deck before playing. And this game showed the usefulness of Perilous Forays. While playing, I was trying to determine if Realm Seekers would have been better and I don't think it would have in that situation. The ability to sac and ramp was instrumental in winning that game so I am going to go back to my initial thought and cut Realm Seekers instead of Perilous Forays.
Brudicald actually started off reasonably well and got down Brudiclad. Unfortunately, they couldn't get their main token producers so they slowed down a little at this point. In the meantime, Ramos was ramping and working on getting Ramos online. Both Brudiclad and I worked to keep Ramos off the table.
I cast a Grothama but never really had anything worth fighting it. Ramos cast a Realm Seekers with 9 counters. The next turn, they fought Grothama to draw 9 cards so that was a bit of an issue but they didn't do a lot with those cards right away since they were kind of low on mana. I recurred Grothama later and fought 3 of my creatures so they all died and I drew 8 cards.
Eventually, I built up a board state of Erebos, Karador, Ulvenwald Hydra, and a couple others. Brudiclad had cast Memnarch, Stealer of Secrets which I blew up. In response, they made Erebos into an Artifact. Ramos then cast Saheeli's Artistry to copy my Hydra and Erebos. Since Erebos prevents me from gaining life, I sacrificed him in response so they only got the Hydra. And then, Ramos cast their own Ulvenwald Hydra.
A couple turns later, Brudiclad got Memnarch back and stole something from Ramos. I blew it up again and they made my Diamond Valley into an artifact. A couple turns later, Ramos cast Merciless Eviction and Brudiclad tried to convince them to exile Artifacts to get rid of my Diamond Valley. Ramos chose the smarter play and exiled enchantments since I could have sacrificed my creatures. This exiled an Erebos I had recurred and my Aura Shards. At some point, my Diamond Valley got blown up anyway with an Artifact removal spell.
At some point (before getting Erebos and Grothama down I think), I ended up with 0 cards in hand. But, I had my Bazaar of Baghdad so I always had stuff to do with being able to cast things with Karador. This kept me in the game for a long time before I got Erebos to get me a few cards so I could still keep some in hand. I also cast a Lifeblood Hydra to gain some life and draw more cards.
All of these different card draw engines are basically what allowed me to start taking over the game. I had 20 lands at one point and was able to use Protean Hulk to get a bunch of different things to keep me going. In the end, I think it was Kokusho who dealt the final blow, but there was a lot going into damaging my opponents before Kokusho made an appearance.
Overall, the deck is functioning fantastically well. Again, there was never a time where I felt Realm Seekers would have been nice to have and Grothama has been stellar (even though it did draw Ramos a bunch of cards). Normally, I would have a Sac outlet to prevent that but it was early enough that I didn't yet.
Mausoleum Secrets is still on my radar. I have used it only once and it got Kokusho. I fully expected it to be used as more of a toolbox card so I am going to continue monitoring it to ensure the choices I make with it are different. If it ends up mostly just being "get Kokusho" I will likely cut it.
As to the Ramos deck, the gimmick with it is kind of subtle. Every nonland card in the deck has a CMC of either 6 or 9 ("69"; get it? ). I think, if I remember right, that all the cards' CMC's also add up to 420 or there is something related to 420 as part of the deck.
It is honestly not a bad deck and it has a lot of power (6 drops tend to be where a lot of the big things that are actually playable reside) so it is still fun to play against the deck.